Dog expert: What makes a dog turn on its owner?

Tomas Mccoy
December 21, 2017

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Bethany Lynn Stephens' body was found by Goochland County deputies around 8:18 p.m. Thursday in a wooded area. Goochland County Sheriff Jim Agnew described Stephens as "petite" and said the dogs were between 100-120 pounds.

"In my 40 years of law enforcement, I've never seen anything quite like it. Hope I'd never see anything like it again", said Sheriff Agnew at a press conference Friday, according to The Post.

"It appeared the attack was a violent attack initiated by the victims' dogs while the victim was out for a walk with the dogs", Sheriff Agnew said the Medical Examiner's initial report indicated. Bruising did show that some of the bites were inflicted while the victim was still alive and others after she passed away.

Stephens' friend, Barbara Norris, told that she didn't believe the dogs would kill Stephens and that they slept in her bed at night.

Authorities said she was found by her father, John, who was searching for her in an area where she was known to take the dogs out for walks. "I don't want to disparage any particular breed but if you do the research you will find that many of them are perpetuated by pit bulls".

A man who used to work with Stephens at a dog training facility told CBS 6 that Stephens was very experienced working with animals, and loved her dogs.

Valerie Paul, a certified master trainer at Impawsible Pups in Richmond, Virginia said it's unusual for dogs to attack their owners out of nowhere.

The dogs had previously been indoor dogs and with her coming home maybe five times a week, they became more isolated.

Stephens' father called the sheriff's office when he hadn't seen her in a day.

While the investigation was considered ongoing, Sheriff Agnew said there were no strangulation marks on Stephens' body and this was not a homicide. Authorities said earlier that the dogs were bred for fighting - a piece of information apparently provided by one of Stephens' friends.

It was there he found his daughter and her two "very large" pitbulls "guarding" her body.

It took officials more than an hour to catch the dogs-which were her pets. Agnew said at least one of the dogs had a significant amount of blood on its collar and neck. "I wasn't able to see the body, so I can't tell you what happened".

"We spent a lot of time there at the scene and made some observations that, out of respect for the family, we're not releasing", Agnew said.

"What I observed personally, it was in the community's best interest", Agnew said.

Veterinary experts have also said that it's is extremely rare for a dog to just attack at random.

The pitbulls have since been euthanized, with the family's permission. Toxicology results on Stephens will not be available for three months. "Once a dog tastes human flesh, it's no longer safe to have that dog around humans".

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